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21-12-2019 | Original Article | Uitgave 3/2020

Cognitive Therapy and Research 3/2020

Training Adaptive Emotion Regulation Skills in Early Adolescents: The Effects of Distraction, Acceptance, Cognitive Reappraisal, and Problem Solving

Tijdschrift:
Cognitive Therapy and Research > Uitgave 3/2020
Auteurs:
Brenda Volkaert, Laura Wante, Marie-Lotte Van Beveren, Leentje Vervoort, Caroline Braet
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Abstract

Adolescence is a critical developmental period in which intense experienced negative emotions need to be successfully regulated in order to decrease the risk of developing psychopathology. This study investigated the immediate and prolonged effects of training emotion regulation (ER) in 256 young adolescents (9–13 years). The four experimental conditions in which an ER skill (acceptance, distraction, cognitive reappraisal, and problem solving) was trained were compared with two control conditions (rumination, performing a cognitive task). Results revealed that: (1) happy affect significantly increased and sad and anxious affect significantly decreased in the four experimental ER conditions but also in the cognitive task condition. Rumination did not have beneficial ER effects. (2) In the experimental condition, the effects on sad and happy affect were more prominent after using distraction, problem solving, and cognitive reappraisal compared to using acceptance. (3) There were no long-term effects of the ER training (ERT) at 1-month follow-up. These results demonstrate that young adolescents are able to use distraction, acceptance, cognitive reappraisal and problem solving, but that the effects of those strategies do not outperform the effects of a neutral cognitive task. In addition, our findings confirm that rumination leads to the maintenance and increase of negative affect, at least short-term. Further research should explore the effects of a more extensive ERT on intense affect states in young adolescents and should investigate the supplementary effects of such a program compared to a neutral cognitive distraction task.

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